Spina bifida is a congenital defect that occurs due to incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings. It can be mild or severe.

  • Mild is the most common and unnoticeable form that neither causes any problems nor needs any treatment. It appears as a dimple, birthmark, or hairy patch on back.
  • Meningocele is a more severe form that present as a bulge in the skin due to leaking of fluid from spine. In most of the cases, there are no other symptoms.
  • Myelomeningocele is the most rare and severe form that present as a bulge in the skin. In some babies, the skin is open and the nerves are exposed.

Causes of Spina Bifida

Although the exact cause of spina bifida isn’t known but following causes are believed to be responsible for spina bifida:

  • Genetic
  • Environmental factors
  • Previous babies with birth defect
  • Folic acid deficiency
  • Obese women
  • Diabetes

Symptoms of Spina Bifida

Most of the mild cases show no symptoms as it depends upon the severity of the defect. Severe form of spina bifida causes following spine and brain issues:

  • Little or no sensation in the legs, feet, or arms
  • Unable to move these parts of the body
  • Bladder or bowel problems
  • Fluid build-up in the brain
  • Seizures
  • Learning problems
  • Vision problems
  • Spinal curve (scoliosis)
  • Deformed feet
  • Uneven hips

Diagnosis of Spina Bifida

The diagnosis of congenital abnormalities is best during prenatal period. Ultrasound of the developing baby and maternal serum triple or quadruple screening can check the signs of spina bifida and other problems. Further confirmation can be done by amniocentesis.

After delivery, X-ray, an MRI, or a CT scan can be done to see if there is any defect in baby.

Treatment of Spina Bifida

Mild form of spina bifida and meningocele are not noticeable and generally don’t need any treatment. But the most severe form usually need surgery that can be done either before or after the baby is born. In addition to this, child requires continuous support to live a quality life.

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